To the Squamish, the local indigenous people of this territory, the mountain is called t'ak'takmu'yin tl'a in7in'a'xe7en. In their language it means "Landing Place of the Thunderbird". This name of the mountain refers to the legendary Thunderbird, a creature in North American indigenous peoples' history and culture. Like Black Tusk further south, the rock was said to have been burnt black by the Thunderbird's lightning. This mountain, like others located in the area, is considered sacred because it plays an important part in their history.
The first recorded ascent of Mount Cayley was made by the mountaineers E.C. Brooks, W.G. Wheatley, B.Clegg, R.E. Knight, and Tom Fyles in 1928. During this time, the party named the volcano after the late Beverley Cochrane Cayley, who was an ardent mountaineer of the executive committees of the British Columbia Mountaineering Club and the Vancouver section of the Alpine Club for several years. Beverley Cayley was a friend of those in the climbing party, and died on June 8, 1928 at the age of 29 in Vancouver. Photographs of Mount Cayley were published in the Canadian Alpine Journal Vol XX in 1931.
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